This work, a collection of essays, deals with the future of the UK-EU relationship, a relationship which has, in recent years, been tarnished as mutual recriminations and the ever-present ‘blame-game’ unfolds within a Europe defined by internal tremors. With solutions in mind, the editors and authors delve deep into the origin of crises and are resolved to provide suggestions and recommendations on how this relationship should be conducted in the future.
The objectives of the book are usefully presented in the introductory section, written by Baimbridge, Whyman and Burkitt, along with summaries of the subsequent chapters and as the editors note ‘this book seeks to provide an analysis of the economic and political relationship between Britain and the EU and thereby facilitate discussion of the future direction in which this relationship might develop’ (pg.21). The main topic has been stated above, but the book is divided in several subtopics such as: British trade outside the EU, British foreign policy, the potential of trade relations with third countries, such as Canada, the impact of EU policies on British sensitive areas such as tax policy or sovereignty, (etc).
All chapters follow the same pattern: an introduction, a main corpus and a conclusion. They are all meant to demonstrate something and this is specified clearly. They are also interlinked: one complements the other; one launches a debate, the other ends it and/or provides solutions; even if the book is comprised of several different essays, it can still be read as a unitary work.
The fundamental arguments that can be summed up from all essays converge on the same topic: the United Kingdom would be better off if it adopted the model of entering interlocking networks of agreements. The current situation the UK experiences – as a member of the EU – is damaging its potential for enhanced economic prosperity. Consequently, a strategic “step back,” as a member of the EU would highly benefit British economic and political policies—according to the authors.
From the point of view of the argumentation, all essays are well documented and referenced. It is common for the authors to provide data and statistics, followed by detailed analyses. However, due to the excessive amount of data, some essays are slightly difficult to read and even more difficult to grasp. Nevertheless, the editors managed to strike a balance in this regard; so that more technical essays are followed by ones less difficult to understand.
All chapters are all well-written, without exception. They are clear in their purpose and all of them achieve their goals. The writing is fluent and the inner construction of the essays is transparent. Even if the aim of the book is to push a rather radical solution – diminishing the influence of the EU in the UK, by orienting the UK towards a more independent policy in aspects such as economics and politics – the tone the authors adopt is a balanced one, offering recommendations rather than urging to rash actions. Their tactic is to convince the reader by the sheer data provided, rather than propaganda against the EU. Based on this, the target readers are clearly specialists.
The added-value of this book stems from the approach used both by the authors as well as the editors. In an European landscape very much troubled by the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, with the Eurosceptics pointing the finger at the lacks and faults that occurred due to its implementation, the editors chose to put together a volume signalling the fact that the United Kingdom should explore more of its relationships to other countries, apart from the EU. The attempt is salutary, but the approach is extraordinary. The editors chose to put forward their argumentation and hope to convince their readers.
All things considered, this work comes highly recommended to all those interested in EU affairs and policies, students and advanced researchers. It is well-documented, has a good command of the topic and does not refrain from putting things into perspective. Thus, in the current context of EU policy research, this work is a must.